Barack Obama and the Gay Gaffe

By Kevin Robinson in News on Mar 26, 2007 1:50PM

2007_3_obama_clinton.jpgAs John Edwards buckles down and tries to keep his presidential bid moving forward while his wife deals with the return of cancer, the two other major Democratic players — Hillary and Barack — have been in the news lately for their stands not just on gay marriage, but the morality of homosexuality in general. After Gen. Peter Pace, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told the Chicago Tribune that "homosexual acts between two individuals are immoral," neither candidate seemed in much of a hurry to take on the issue. Hillary recently told the Human Rights Campaign that she wants a partnership (but not a marriage) with gays if she is elected, but then told the press, when asked about Gen. Pace's remarks, that she would "leave that to others to conclude."

What's disappointing however, was Obama's initial reaction to Pace's remarks. According to the Tribune, a Newsday reporter asked Obama as he was leaving a speaking engagement if he thought homosexuality was immoral. Obama's first answer was: "I think traditionally the Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman has restricted his public comments to military matters. That's probably a good tradition to follow." Asked a second time, he said: "I think the question here is whether somebody is willing to sacrifice for their country." When asked a third time, the senator ignored the question, signed an autograph, posed for a photo and then jumped into a Lincoln Town Car. Obama later clarified his position, telling Larry King on CNN, "I don't think that homosexuals are immoral any more than I think heterosexuals are immoral."

A calculated response from Hillary is no surprise; we've come to expect her to tap dance around all kinds of issues. And although he has been taking heat from his supporters for it, Obama has been remarkably consistent with his position on gay marriage. During his 2004 U.S. Senate campaign, he said "I'm a Christian. ... And so, although I try not to have my religious beliefs dominate or determine my political views on this issue, I do believe that tradition, and my religious beliefs say that marriage is something sanctified between a man and a woman." While we may not agree with that analysis, he is certainly entitled to his beliefs. What's disappointing is watching a man whose personal story, background and persona have the power to unite a nation that is clearly worn down by the politics of division and false choices try to find an answer that will satisfy everyone. We aren't convinced that Obama actually believes that homosexuality is immoral. But what his reaction did demonstrate is that his commitment to equality goes only as far as political expediency will allow. In fact, of the three, John Edwards had the best response, telling a reporter, up front, that he did “not share that view.” While the so-called culture wars are almost always a losing game for the left to play, we hope that Obama has learned a deeper lesson from this incident, as it most certainly won't be the last time we hear this kind of backwards thinking. If America is going to start putting itself back together again after 14 years of bitter partisan fighting, we need a leader than can stand up for what is right. Here's hoping Obama can be that leader.

Image via Telegraph.co.uk.